Mary Ann Rigas, M.D.
Every year, children look forward to Halloween. They get to dress up as their favorite character, collect loads of candy, and might even be allowed to stay up past bedtime. It’s a fun occasion; however, there are some things parents should keep in mind to help their child stay safe while celebrating.
Sweets and Treats
Eating sweets or candy in excess could upset your child’s stomach. Eating a healthy meal before venturing out for trick-or-treating can help them avoid overindulging in snacks as they walk about and give them enough energy to enjoy the fun.
It is advised for parents to check everything their kids bring home from trick-or-treating, so encourage your children to wait until after they’re home to enjoy any snacks they get. Look out for signs of candy that has been tampered with. This could include unusual coloration or wrapping, small tears or pinholes in wrappers, and goods that are not wrapped at all. If you have any doubts, throw it out. Do not keep homemade treats unless you know and trust the family that gave them to your children.
Young trick-or-treaters should avoid gum, hard candies, and other potential choking hazards. Familiarize yourself with the Heimlich maneuver just in case. Also, if you have any concerns about tainted candy, the Poison Control Center is available 24 hours every day and can be reached at 800-222-1222.
Be Careful with Costumes
Wearing clothes or costumes that your child is not used to can be a bit awkward and create challenges with their movement. Test fit their outfit so that they can get accustomed to it and if needed, you can alter it to make it safer and easier to wear. In addition to test-fitting your clothing and costumes, be sure to consider your child’s footwear. More than likely, they will be walking from house to house, so make sure their shoes fit them appropriately which will help avoid trips and falls. If they get new shoes as part of their costume, break them in to prevent painful blisters. If you are extra worried about falls while out and about, accessories that could cause harm like swords or canes should not be included with this year’s costume.
Safety in the Neighborhood
Sunset occurs earlier during the fall and many community outings may occur after dark. Having a bright-colored costume or adding light reflectors not only helps you keep an eye on your children, but helps drivers also see them. Having a flashlight or headlamp is also a good idea.
During Halloween festivities, kids can get carried away with all the fun they’re having. It’s important that adults are with trick-or-treaters to supervise them and make sure that they stay safe. Only approach houses that are well-lit and remind your children not to enter any strangers’ homes or cars.
Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
If you’re not comfortable with trick-or-treating, there are several other fun things to do to celebrate Halloween. If you opt to stay in, have a few Halloween movies picked out to watch or read books or play games while enjoying treats at home. Pick up a few pumpkins to carve and walk or drive to enjoy other homes’ jack-o-lanterns and decorations.
Mary Ann Rigas, M.D., is with UPMC Pediatrics and sees patients at UPMC Cole, 1001 East Second St., Coudersport. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rigas, call 814-274-9198. For more information, visit UPMC.com/PediatricsNCPA.